6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2012
Anxious to capitalise on the success of Nabucco Vedri was commissioned to compose his fourth opera. The result I Lombardi has often been regarded as something of a misfire a conclusion which is unjustified for the opera contains some fine music. . It is fortunate that this worthy 1984 production from La Scala is still available on DVD. Filmed for video release by the very experienced Brian Large it remains the only version of the opera available in DVD format.
Saddled with a libretto even more complicated than Il Trovatore the storyline has many of the Verdi familiars including warring brothers, a complex father/daughter relationship and a romantic entanglement that offends religious beliefs. The largest part is assigned to Giselda, whose misfortunes include being nearly murdered in the first act, held captive by the Muslim enemy in act 2 and having to endure a heavenly vision in act 4. Sung with great spirit by Ghena Dimitrova this versatile singing actress succeeds in holding the multiple confusions of the plot together. Only making his first entry in act 2 Jose Carreras, in a rather restricted part, makes an impressive showing as Oronte the son of the Muslim leader who falls in love with Giselda with whom he has a number of adventures before being killed and then singing his final aria from the heavens. As a murderous son turned hermit Silvano Carroli has a fine bass voice but in the part of Arvino (Giselda's father/the hermit's brother) Carlo Bini simply does not have a tenor voice worthy of La Scala.
The attempts to emulate the success of the chorus in Nabuccvo is evident in the large number of choruses given to the crusading army. Under the baton of the famously autocratic Gianandrea Gavazzeni the chorus perform some stirring set pieces but there is nothing to rival "Va pensiero" and the great battle hymns of Ernani and Il Trovatore. That said the opera does contain some beautiful music (Pavarotti included some of the tenor arias at concert performances) and among them there is a lovely violin preludio at the end of act 3,
As would be expected at La Scala the staging, particularly in the first two acts is impressive. Later the scenery becomes rather more functionable although an acceptable standard is always maintained.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2011
"I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociata" - (The Lombards on the First Crusade), not by any means my favourite opera story but it's a Verdi Opera and Jose Carreras sings the part of Oronte with Ghena Dimitrova as his lover Giselda. All of Oronte's arias are beautiful and beautifully sung although this character doesn't appear until Act 2. Giselda is a larger role and Ghena Dimitrova does a very good job.
This opera has 4 tenors, 3 sopranos and 2 bases, not your most usual opera combination but it works for this story. From my point of view there are too many characters and the story too complicated for opera. One of the other tenors has a thin scratchy voice. I think this is Arvino played here by Carlo Bini who is unfamiliar to me and his brother Pagano/Hermit, a bass is played by Silvano Carroli and his singing is very good but I am also not familiar with his name either.
What I like least about this story is the character of Oronto being converted from a Muslim to a Christian at the last moment so that he can go to heaven. Also I don't know how the hermit could do that. The hermit says to Oronto and Giselda that their love is sinful. Oronto agrees to the conversion to Christianity but the hermit doesn't suggest that they should also be married, so it seems that it is sinful only to be a non Christian, not to be unmarried!
After all that, if you like Verdi, Carreras and Dimitrova then go for it. Also I must mention the beautifully played violin prelude between Acts 2 and 3. We think of Verdi and Opera but this is a different piece showing Verdi's wonderful way with music.
I have this Opera on Video and DVD so I highly recommend it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2010
A rare performance of an interesting early Verdi. The story unfolds on a very recognizable Piazza at Sant'Ambrose Basilica in Milan where family deceit is afoot. The music is very convincing and drifts on with the crusade to the Holy Land. Some unspeakeable acts of violence are perpertrated against the Moors but the heroine is firm in her resolve to save her muslim friends from violence. The Chorus is well balanced and Pagano well played. Jerusalem and O Signore are memorably sung. Well worth the price but could be even more acceptable in HD.
on 3 February 2014
I had a copy of this opera with Jose Carreras but the picture quality was not good. When I saw the DVD had been re-issued I knew I had to have it. It is a well-known opera and well deserved; unfortunately it is not performed very often now, like so many of the earlier operas of Verdi, which is a pity.